The National Entrepreneurship Association provides practical entrepreneurial experience and business resources to small business owners. The Association accomplishes its goals by offering effective programs that help its members acquire knowledge, skills, and resources that can be used in both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial capacities.
The National Entrepreneurship Association (NEA) was founded by Gary Robinson, Jeffrey McMillion, and Sonya Morring Smith in 1998 in Virginia Beach, VA. With the help of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency and the Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, NEA was originally established to foster entrepreneurship endeavors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as at other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). With this aim, NEA hosted collegiate components at various national conferences that included the National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conferences, the National SBA Expo, and the National Minority Supplier Development Council Conferences. The organization provided scholarships to students to attend these conferences and also facilitated a number of workshops that were specifically established for them.
In addition to conferences, NEA established a relationship with the National Technology Transfer Center in Wheeling, West Virginia to work with its Entrepreneurial Technology Apprenticeship Program (ETAP). As part of this arrangement, NEA helped to place students into this program where students were introduced to new innovations and had an opportunity to develop potential commercial uses for these new technologies.
As the organization continued to build connections and relationships, NEA was also invited to take over the operation of a small youth entrepreneurship program in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. KidCommerce USA was a unique organization that was teaching entrepreneurship to middle and high school students in disadvantaged
communities. After assuming the management of the organization, NEA helped to grow and eventually launch a number of student-operated businesses. From vending machines to landscaping, the students started and operated businesses as an after-school program. Eventually, KidCommerce was able to establish Teen Incubator Centers in many of the local housing developments as a place where the students could continue to learn and manage their businesses.
After nearly 20 years, NEA is still promoting entrepreneurship and looking to help average people find the entrepreneurial niche. Now, the organization is focusing on the broader spectrum of all people but still maintains a focus on helping disadvantaged communities.